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Building Strong Brand Tribes (Inspired by Presenters at SXSW)

Jen Herbert, Senior Strategist at AMP

 

I haven’t been to Disney World since I was eight, but this year I was fortunate enough to go to South by Southwest (SXSW), which I have now dubbed “Disneyland for Adults.” When I wasn’t busy presenting with the rest of the fierce AMP team for our participation in   YouTube’s SXSW Creative Agency Challenge, or being distracted by the puppies at the Amazon Prime activation and the endless CBD-related samples at the wellness expo, I promise I was putting on my Brand Strategist hat and attending a wealth of panels and keynotes with my colleague and SXSW partner-in-crime, Andie, AMP’s Director of Business Development.  


The best part was listening to speakers with such diversity in perspective, and realizing that all of these accomplished individuals offered a unique method for building and strengthening a brand tribe: through social impact, play, internal creativity, and centering the customer experience around a singular emotional benefit.


While we’ve been hearing about “brand community” for some time, “brand tribe” is a relatively new term in Marketing, yet it’s important because it denotes a much deeper relationship between brand and customer. While a member of a brand community need only participate on occasion, perhaps via a purchase or a ‘like’ on Instagram, a member of a brand tribe wholly believes in that brand. Connection with that brand becomes an outward expression of one’s identity to the rest of the world. Brand tribe members wear merchandise, create user-generated Social content, join loyalty programs, go on auto-pay plans, and, perhaps most importantly, recruit others to join the tribe too.


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Building A Brand Tribe Through Social Impact


Study after study has proven that in 2019, consumers want to back brands that share their values and create a positive change in the world. That being said, brands can’t talk at customers about the good they’re doing; they need to work with their customers to spread good together. As panelists during How Brands Can Engage the Social Impact Generation outlined, social impact must be participatory.


One panelist, Viveka Hulyalkar, Co-Founder and CEO of Beam, has developed a customer engagement platform that partners with a given company, say, a fast-casual salad stand. The salad company decides how much they’re willing to donate per purchase and a cause they would like to support, such as third world female education. Customers can then log into the app to track how each salad purchased gets them closer to buying a textbook for a young girl. Another panelist, Helena Hounsel, Social Media Manager at Brandless, offered an example of how a brand tribe of activists can be built on Social: “Rather than spending International Women’s Day showing how your company volunteered at a women’s nonprofit, why don’t you instead ask your audience which women are inspiring them this holiday?”


By rallying around causes that your brand and your customers share a passion for, and then providing a platform for your customers to become ambassadors for the cause, your social impact becomes experiential and your brand tribe becomes united around a higher purpose.


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Building A Brand Tribe Through Play


All work and no play makes a brand’s tribe very dull. IBM’s Dr. John Cohn reminded us of that in his session, Prioritizing Play in an Automated Age, where he outlined how making room to play can smooth the bumps during life’s tough disruptions. During the talk, Dr. Cohn told us about play projects of his, like an 18-foot tall animatronic pumpkin man as well as an art car built for Burning Man. He recounted how droves of people, some of whom then became his fellow creators, were drawn to his projects while they were being built and shown off to the world.


In other words, play can help you find your brand tribe, in a very “if you build it, they will come” kind of way. Through your bravery to look silly and/or fail, and your willingness to surrender to wonder for no reason other through indulging curiosity, your brand will show its authenticity and customers who identity a similar raison d’être in themselves will be drawn to you naturally.


ActualPlayCartoon

Sure, you might be saying, A wacky scientist from IBM can have a little fun, but how can brands? Let’s not forget this Southwest flight attendant who transformed the safety demonstration into a burlesque performance, or KFC apologizing for running out of chicken with an on-the-nose newspaper ad featuring its carton respelt as FCK.


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Building A Brand Tribe Through Internal Creativity


It is often hard for brands to prioritize looking inward, to their own company culture and values, when there are always so many externally-focused tasks to complete. The beloved bakery Milk Bar, however, is proof that the spirit of brands that cultivate internal creativity will always shine through and be felt externally by customers.

 

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During Innovation in Pursuit of the Unexpected, Christina Tosi, cookie-baker extraordinaire and company founder, along with her agency partner, Michael Greenblatt of REDSCOUT, reflected on how the Milk Bar brand toolkit is a toolkit in the truest sense of the word. Through the codified system of the color palette, off-kilter logo placement, branded pastry box tape, and decorative stamps, Milk Bar employees at locations around the country are encouraged to leverage their creativity to use the tools as they’d wish. For example, the Milk Bar team suggested designing the delivery truck to look like it was covered in the Milk Bar tape; others use the logo and colors to bedazzle denim jackets and beanies that they wear to work.


This DIY spirit has created a tribe of Milk Bar devotees. Because employees are welcome to live and breathe the brand uniquely, customers also view the brand as a living and breathing thing to interact with–for example by holding up a cup of “cereal milk” soft serve to a pretty background for the perfect Instagram, or by decorating their laptop in Milk Bar stickers.


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Building A Brand Tribe Through Creation of “Brand Feeling”


Lastly, it’s easy to get bogged down in lifting brand metrics. Yet during Following the Feeling: Creating Brand Value, Columbia University lecturer Kai Wright argues that the most important brand metric is how you make others feel. After all, Wright noted, humans make 95% of our daily decisions on “auto-pilot,” rather than weighing pros and cons in order to choose the best and most rational choice, with emotions influencing nearly 70% of our decision-making.


He cited brands who have expertly structured their brand “LAVEC”– lexicon, audio cues, visual stimuli, experience, and culture– around a singular brand feeling. Take Disney, whose feeling of “happiness” is supported by audio cues like fireworks and visual stimuli like wearing the iconic mouse ears, or Gatorade, whose feeling of “endurance” is brought to life through the lexicon of calling its products “fuel.”


If a customer can rely on your brand not just for great products or services, but for a guaranteed emotional experience, your brand tribe is then powered by the strength of shared human connection.

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Google Search Trends Insights February 2020 - AMP Agency

In our continuing series of examining Google Search Trends to gain insights into the top keywords queried in the USA, we present our findings for February 2020. Every day, we capture the top three keyword phrases in terms of search volume as reported by Google Trends (US Only). Each term has an estimated query volume attached to it, which we also record. The number scale tops out at 10,000,000+ with a lower limit of 200,000+. After the conclusion of the month, we look at the phrases we collected along with their volumes to get an understanding of what drove queries for the month. The Super Bowl and The Oscars  February is home to two major annual events – the Super Bowl and the Oscars. Top keywords by search volume related to the Super Bowl included: Super Bowl - Feb. 1st - 10 Million+ queries Patrick Mahomes - Feb. 2nd - 10 Million+ queries Shakira - Feb. 2nd - 10 Million+ queries Super Bowl 2020 time - Feb. 1st - 5 Million+ queries Jennifer Lopez age - Feb. 1st - 5 Million+ queries What time is the Super Bowl - Feb. 1st - 2 Million+ queries Clearly, people need to know when the Super Bowl is going to start so that they can get their chili cooked in time for kickoff. The winning quarterback also seems to win in the search game (sorry, Jimmy G). As for the halftime show? Well, no matter what anyone’s opinion was about it this year, the data proves that it captivated people enough to search for both of the headlining performers. It’s quite the change in pace from last year when the headlining band did not make the top 3 queries of the day (sorry, Maroon 5). The Academy Awards - known by their more commonly searched name, The Oscars - also generated large search volumes around its date:  Oscars 2020 - Feb. 8th - 5 Million+ queries Parasite - Feb. 9th - 5 Million+ queries Joaquin Phoenix - Feb. 9th - 2 Million+ queries Laura Dern - Feb. 9th - 2 Million+ queries It’s interesting to see what topics other than the name of the event itself drove people to search.  This year, it was the name of the Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Supporting Actress.  As for the name of the event itself, we noticed that when compared to last year, the query volume for the 2019 Oscars was higher.   Oscars 2019 - Feb. 24th - 10 Million+ queries Comparing these two numbers, we wanted to see the data presented via Google Trends’s chart.  By using the search term, “the oscars”, we queried Google Trends to see the popularity of the term in the USA over the past 5 years: This chart further indicates that the Oscars drove less searches this year than most years prior. We wonder if the earlier date of this event (the awards ceremony typically occurs near the end of the month) or a less interesting year in film is the reason for less interest this time around. When it comes to comparing the Super Bowl to the Oscars, there isn’t much of a comparison between search volumes: Other Sports in February Besides the Super Bowl, here are the other sports related queries:  Ryan Newman - Feb. 17th - 10 Million+ queries Tyson Fury - Feb. 21st - 5 Million+ queries Daytona 500 - Feb. 15th - 2 Million+ queries All-Star Game  - Feb. 16th - 2 Million+ queries XFL - Feb. 8th - 2 Million+ queries NASCAR had a few queries make our list this month. The top queried phrase was related to Ryan Newman’s crash at the Daytona 500. Boxing had another top phrase with people looking for more information about the fighter Tyson Fury. Meanwhile, the NBA All-Star game and the new American football league, the XFL, drove people to search for scores and stats.. Coronavirus  In January, we saw the first spike of search interest about the disease occur on the 21st. Even though the subject has been in the news since that day, the topic didn’t make our top queries until late in February:   Coronavirus symptoms  - Feb. 25th - 1 Million+ queries Coronavirus update  - Feb. 23rd - 500,000+ queries Coronavirus in usa - Feb. 25th  - 500,000+ queries Coronavirus New York  - Feb. 29th - 500,000+ queries The news about this virus has been ongoing since January, but in February, the number of search queries behind specific phrases was on the lower side. Typically, top phrases are over 10 million queries, while “Coronavirus symptoms” only reached just over 1 million. Even though the topic seems to be searched for with different queries, the volume appears to indicate that last month in February, people weren’t seeking information about it as often as other topics. Primary Elections With the Impeachment trial wrapping up and the presidential election primaries heating up, queries related to politics were plentiful in the month of February. Here are the top queried phrases of the month : Iowa caucus results - Feb. 3rd - 5 Million+ queries Mitt Romney - Feb. 5th - 5 Million+ queries Democratic debate - Feb. 19th - 5 Million+ queries Nevada caucus - Feb. 22nd - 5 Million+ queries South Carolina primary - Feb. 29th - 5 Million+ queries Interesting to note: the keyword “New Hampshire Primary” only drove 500,000+ queries. We theorized that its outcome was less in question than the other primaries.  Social Media Driven Queries Lastly, there were fun queries that were driven by social media mentions and activities: Broom standing up - Feb. 10 - 2 Million+ queries Galentine’s Day - Feb 13. - 200,000+ queries The broom standing up query was based on the hoax that there was a special gravitational pull that occurs only on February 10th. NASA explained that standing a broom on its own can happen on any day because of basic physics. The day before Valentine’s Day has become an unofficial holiday and its search query popularity really popped this year: Are there marketing opportunities for Galentine’s Day next year? With a search trend like the one above, we’d say it’s likely. See you next month!

We Are Zillow’s Digital Agency - AMP Agency

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Google Search Trends Insights January 2020 - AMP Agency

In our continuing series of examining Google Search Trends to gain insights into the top keywords queried in the USA, we present our findings for January 2020. Every day, we capture the top three keyword phrases in terms of search volume as reported by Google Trends (US Only). Each term has an estimated query volume attached to it, which we also record. The number scale tops out at 10,000,000+ with a lower limit of 200,000+. After the conclusion of the month, we look at the phrases we collected along with their volumes to get an understanding of what drove queries for the month. A Somber Start to the 2020s  Well, I am not going to sugarcoat it. Some of the top queries in January 2020 were about troubling events. In the beginning of the month, Iran was a top-searched topic after the assassination of Qassem Soleimani. The other 10 million+ queries were as follows:  Iran - Jan. 7th - 10 Million+ queries Iran - Jan. 2nd - 5 Million+ queries World War 3 - Jan. 2nd - 2 Million+ queries By the end of the month, the top searched queries centered around a tragic helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant, his daughter, Gianna and seven other passengers. Although we don’t focus on this topic here in our blog posts, celebrity deaths do drive people to query Google for details and make the top three phrases every month. That’s why this past month, the shock of Kobe Bryant’s death overwhelmed the search volume on January 26th. Here are the top queried phrases on that day: Kobe Bryant - Jan. 26th - 10 Million+ queries Kobe Bryant children - Jan. 26th - 10 Million+ queries TMZ - Jan. 26th - 10 Million+ queries Typically, we don’t see all three of the top queried terms have over 10 million queries each, but this tragedy was an exception. Holidays Continue in January Even though December is well known as being a holiday month, January 2020 had a few holidays of its own that drove queries: Martin Luther King Jr Day - Jan. 19th - 10 Million+ queries Lunar New Year - Jan. 24th - 10 Million+ queries Chinese New Year - Jan. 24th - 500,000+ queries The holiday keywords that had over 10 million queries had the additional support of Google Doodles to increase their numbers. But even when our attention shifts away from the year-end holidays, there are still major ones in January that consumers are looking to learn more about with Google searches. Boxing Is Still Relevant As Revealed In Search Queries Sport-related queries take up a good portion of the top queried phrases of any month. January 2020 had a few days where the subject of boxing made the top three. In last month’s post, we discussed the popularity of European soccer. This month, it is clear that boxing and mixed martial arts also have a strong interest.   Conor McGregor  - Jan. 17th - 10 Million+ queries McGregor fight  - Jan. 18th - 2 Million+ queries McGregor fight - Jan. 17th - 1 Million+ queries Jake Paul vs Gib - Jan. 30th - 500,000+ queries Conor McGregor commanded top billing for his fight on January 18th. People searching for results or perhaps a free stream of the fight had to type quickly since it only lasted 40 seconds.  The fight on the 30th between Jake Paul and AnEsonGib also drove search queries. These two YouTube stars fought a professional bout in Miami and generated enough interest to become one of the top 3 keywords searched in Google for the day. Disease and Other Natural Disasters I really wish I had happier keywords to share in this post. But looking across the different terms for the month, another big trend included news items related to epidemics and disasters around the world: Coronavirus - Jan. 21st - 2 Million+ queries Earthquake - Jan. 28th - 1 Million+ queries Lyme disease - Jan. 8th - 1 Million+ queries Australia fires - Jan. 2nd - 1 Million+ queries Taal volcano - Jan. 12th - 500,000+ queries Coronavirus symptoms - Jan. 29th - 200,000+ queries Puerto Rico earthquake - Jan. 6th - 200,000+ queries We can thank Justin Bieber for raising awareness of Lyme Disease. The rest of these are driven by people wanting to get the latest news on these stories.  As we say goodbye to the first month of 2020 and welcome February in full-force, we’ll keep track of the top keywords queried in hopes of finding more positive, uplifting search terms.  See you next month!